After graduating from University College London with a first class honours degree in civil engineering, Sir Michael spent the first half of his career in the planning, design and construction of transport and infrastructure sector. He subsequently held appointments in several local authorities. From 1990 to 2005 he was Chief Executive of Cheshire and then Kent County Councils, and received a knighthood in 2005 for services to local government.
Sir Michael was appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to lead an independent review into the UK floods of summer 2007, and his recommendations as chair were accepted in full by the then Labour government (The Pitt Review: Learning Lessons from the 2007 Floods). He has also chaired a number of other organisations including NHS South West (2006-09), two private companies and a charity supporting family mediation in Wiltshire, Mediation Plus, of which he is still a trustee.
He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Wiltshire in 2009 and awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of his contribution to planning by the University of the West of England. As LSB Chairman, Sir Michael will draw a non-pensionable salary of £63,000 in exchange for a commitment of at least 70 days per year. In accordance with the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, Sir Michael has declared that he has not been involved in any political activity.
Meanwhile, the LSB has pushed ahead with its decision that all new chair appointments be non-lawyers, in spite of opposition from the majority of regulatory and representative bodies. Following a consultation last year, the Board concluded that: “Our assessment is that at present strong ties to the history, culture and rules of the profession in general and professional self- regulation in particular can act as a significant drag on the better regulation principles and therefore put the regulatory objectives at risk.”
Director of the Bar Standards Board, Dr Vanessa Davies, said: “At the time of the LSB’s consultation, the BSB’s view was clear: chairs of regulatory boards should be appointed on merit. The LSB has since come to a different conclusion and changed the Internal Governance Rules. The BSB is required to comply with these and accordingly is – at the time of writing – in the process of recruiting a new lay Chair to succeed Baroness Deech QC (Hon), whose term of office ends on 31 December 2014.”